Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Net Worth Up $8k in June

Our household net worth is up $8k for the month of June on $9k in take home pay. We didn't lose any significant money in the stock market. We had no maintenance expenses for our vehicles and $300 in maintenance for one of our three investment properties. The $8k gain in our net worth can be attributed to saved income and equity gains in our rental properties.

Recommended Personal Finance Articles From: Free Money Finance, My Two Dollars, Financial Armageddon, Money Smart Life, and Others

Here's some recommended articles from those sites that share links with Plugged in Finance. I hope they are of use to you.

Free Money Finance - "Wealth Without Wall Street" <- Great article!

My Two Dollars - "What Your Moving Company Won’t Tell You Until You Sign The Paperwork"

Financial Armageddon - "Scenes From a Downturn"

Money Smart Life - "Start A Side Business in The Lazy Days of Summer"

Military Finance Network - "Roth TSP May Be Further Off Than Anticipated"

Fund My Mutual Fund - "Bloomberg: Correlation Among Asset Classes Highest Ever"

Financial Fitness - "Brought LR2 Home Yesterday" Highlights use of "truecar.com"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Your Home Will be Worth in 2012

Yahoo Real Estate had a good article earlier this week on 10 real estate markets. Yahoo worked with FISERV to analyze real estate data across the U.S. and predicts that real estate prices will start to stabilize around the fourth quarter of 2011 when prices will inch up slightly.

My take, watch unemployment numbers. Our economy is already spiraling lower than what was predicted by the White House. The White House predicted that the peak unemployment rate would be 8% if its Stimulus package was passed. Since unemployment is now at 9.4%, we know that the White House estimates are off by at least 17.5% [(9.4-8)/8 * 100 = 17.5].

Foreclosure activity is also important. The moratorium on foreclosure activity ended in March. In the last three months, there were almost one-million foreclosure filings. For the month of May alone, foreclosure filings were up 18% from May 2008. In May, one if every 398 households got a foreclosure notice. (Source: Moneynews)

Finally, consider the months of unsold pre-existing home inventory on hand. The real estate market will continue to be a sellers market until the months of unsold pre-existing homes on the market drops to six months. Our nation's ability to get to a six month inventory of unsold pre-existing homes depends greatly on trends in new home construction. If builders continue to add new homes to the market, pre-existing unsold home inventory will continue to remain higher than historical averages.

Enough about my opinion, here is what Yahoo Real Estate estimates for 10 real estate markets:

1. New York
Metro: New York-White Plains-Wayne (N.Y.-N.J.)
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $343,937
Q4 2008 price: $440,000
Projected price change by MSA: -21.8%
Projected price change by state: -15.6%

One of the metros with the highest housing prices in the nation, the New York-White Plains-Wayne area is projected to have the third-largest drop in the country, behind Los Angeles and Tampa. Analysts predict that 2009 and 2010 will be the worst years, and then home prices will stabilize. Of particular concern is the impact that the crisis in the financial industry, one of the area's largest employers, has had on the housing market. From banker to back-office staff, thousands lost their jobs or saw their incomes slashed. As Wall Street strengthens, so will real estate prices.

2. California
Metro: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $253,328
Q4 2008 price: $350,000
Projected price change by MSA: -27.6%
Projected price change by state: -13.2%

Los Angeles, best known as the home of Hollywood, is home to excellent universities such as the University of Southern California and large corporations such as aerospace contractor Northrop Grumman. Southern California has been particularly damaged by the downturn in the housing market and home values are expected to remain soft.

3. Illinois
Metro: Chicago-Naperville-Joliet
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $248,136
Q4 2008 price: $247,000
Projected price change by MSA: +0.5%
Projected price change by state: +0.6%

Chicago, hometown of President Barack Obama, is the third-largest city in the U.S. and a financial center. The city is famous for its architecture, museums, nightlife, and deep-dish pizza. The area's top employers include Jewel-Osco supermarkets, United Airlines, and J.P. Morgan.

4. Pennsylvania
Metro: Philadelphia
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $171,347
Q4 2008 price: $195,000
Projected price change by MSA: -12.1%
Projected price change by state: -3.6%

This year, prices in the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area are projected to fall 11.6%. Housing prices in the suburbs remain expensive but have still dropped in price. Real estate in Center City also has seen significant declines but will begin to turn around in 2011.

5. Texas
Metro: Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $160,471
Q4 2008 price: $160,000
Projected price change by MSA: 0.3%
Projected price change by state: -0.1%

Texas in general and Houston in particular have been spared the worst of the downturn, thanks in large part to the energy industry. The sixth-largest metropolitan area in the country will hold steady over the next four years. Prices are expected to dip a bit in 2009 and 2010, but regain ground by 2012.

6. Georgia
Metro: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $182,199
Q4 2008 price: $182,000
Projected price change by MSA*: +0.1%
Projected price change by state: +0.3%

Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, has seen its home price declines slow. Prices dropped about 1% in March from to the previous month but were down 16% from a year earlier. The Atlanta metro is home to many of the nation's largest companies including Delta Airlines, CNN, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot.

7. District of Columbia
Metro: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $306,398
Q4 2008 price: $330,000
Projected price change by MSA: -7.2%
Projected price change by state: -11.5%

The DC area is one of the nation's few economic bright spots and has been somewhat buffered from the recession because of its government and defense contractor jobs. Another bright spot is its popular tourist attractions, which bring in millions of visitors every year to fill its museums, hotels, and restaurants. However, home prices will remain down through 2010 and will come back in 2011.

8. Massachusetts
Metro: Boston-Quincy
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $294,741
Q4 2008 price: $320,000
Projected price change by MSA: -7.9%
Projected price change by state: -3.2%

Boston is a historic city with large hospitals and world-class universities such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But while education and health services have been strong, the construction, leisure, financial, and transportation industries have all taken a hit. Home prices will begin to normalize in 2011 and be up more than 7% year-over-year in 2012.

9. Arizona
Metro: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $141,859
Q4 2008 price: $169,000
Projected price change by MSA: -16.1%
Projected price change by state: -17.2%

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale is one of the worst-hit housing markets in the country. Retirees, empty-nesters, and others flocked to the area during the boom for its warm weather, relative affordability, and recreational opportunities. And so did builders. Many of the new homes built during the boom have since been repossessed.

10. Washington
Metro: Seattle-Bellevue-Everett
What a Home Will Be Worth in 2012: $413,966
Q4 2008 price: $395,000
Projected price change by MSA: +4.8%
Projected price change by state: +5.4%

Relatively protected by the presence of tech giant Microsoft and airplane maker Boeing, after a nearly 10% drop in 2008, analysts project an 8.7% decrease this year, followed by gains. (Source: Yahoo Real Estate)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Something I Never Thought I Would See on The White House's Website

This isn't personal finance related but you gotta love this hokie video of the President dunking and egging kids to dunk his Senior White House Staff.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Numbers on Welfare See Sharp Increase Year-Over-Year (OR +27.2%, SC +23.1%, WA +18.3%, CO +16%, MD +14.2%...)

Just read a good WSJ article discussing the nationwide increases seen in the number of welfare recipients.


* Twenty-three of the thirty largest states have seen an annual increase in welfare case loads. The biggest increases are generally found in the states with the highest unemployment rates.

* Welfare cases peaked at above 5 million in 1995. In Sep 2008, most recent date on record, the number of welfare cases were 1.6 million.

* The number of food stamp recipients has increased over the last year at a greater rate than welfare recipients. The criteria to qualify for food stamps is easier than qualifying for welfare. In general, people with an income less than $2297 per month can qualify for food stamps. Additional details on food stamp programs can be found at the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) site.

* Average monthly welfare benefit in 2006 was $372 (Source: Sarah Murray)

Annual shift in welfare usage among top 30 most populous states (Source).

Cash For Clunkers: Short AP Video Describing Program and How to Qualify

I despise government bail outs. But, they are news and if you can take advantage of them you must. If you don't gain from them out spite, you're a double loser in that you get nothing out of them now and you pay higher taxes in the future to cover the cost.

Hey government, why doesn't my 27 mpg 1998 Acura qualify too? I'd be happy using the credit for a 37 mpg or more car! I guess Congress didn't want owners of cars like mine to qualify because our subsequent purchase might be less profitable to the auto manufactures.

Here's the video:

Those who qualify for the cash for clunkers incentive may have to move fast. I hear there is only $1 billion reserved for the program.

Treasury Department Issues Emergency Recall of All US Dollars (Hoax - Video)

Don't like our spiraling national debt? Here's another good video for comic relief.

Treasury Department Issues Emergency Recall Of All US Dollars

US to Trade Gold Reserves for Cash via Cash for Gold (Hoax)

Thanks to the Calculated Risk for this funny video.

US To Trade Gold Reserves For Cash Through Cash4Gold.com

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Finally Established a Twitter Account

I'm typically not an individual to join faddish social networking sites. I've held back from joining Facebook, Myspace and others.

But, I decided to join Twitter because it seems like it offers a revolutionary shift in social networking. This week I have seen the viability and importance of Twitter demonstrated on a global scale with the Iranian election demonstrations... So, I got off my butt and joined.

My profile can be found here.

I already set up my account to follow other personal finance writers who share links with Plugged in Finance. I'm looking forward to networking with others who share my interests in the future.

My Largest Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP): Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

I have carried my Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) dividend reinvestment plan since 2005. While the stock market has seen tumultuous times, I haven't in my JNJ position. Factoring in dividends, I have lost just 6% of my investment compared with an approximate 19% loss I would have experienced if I invested in the S&P 500.

JNJ is my largest DRIP. I bought it originally through Equiserve.com (since taken over by Computershare.com). I was able to establish my JNJ DRIP without ever using a broker. Subsequent cash and dividend investments in JNJ are not charged any fees. Only reoccurring investments are charged a $1 fee.

CBS Marketwatch seems to like JNJ also. Here's a recent Marketwatch video that emphasizes that JNJ may be a "Buy" now.

Morningstar details on JNJ:

Morningstar Rating: 5 stars
Economic Moat: Wide
Last Price (COB Fri, 19 Jun): $56.09
Consider Buying: $64
Fair Value: $80
Consider Selling: $100

JNJ is selling 12.4% below Morningstar's consider buying price.

If you are interested in establishing a DRIP in JNJ check out Computershare for further details.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Excellent Articles From: The Digerati Life, Free Money Finance, My Two Dollars, Money Smart Life, Single Guy Money, Northern Cheapskate and others

Here's some excellent articles from those personal finance sites that share links with Plugged in Finance:

The Digerati Life - "How to be a Millionaire? Start With the Right Attributes"

Free Money Finance - "Nine Tips on How to Advance in Your Career"

My Two Dollars - "How to Get Your Monthly Electric Bill Below $25"

Money Smart Life - "Seven Ways to Save Money on Your Summer Family Trip"

Single Guy Money - "Don't Pay for Credit Repair"

Northern Cheapskate - "Free Premium Channels..." Check out the link at this site for a referral to Free Preview TV.

Bullish Bankers - "Structural Changes in the Economy, Unemployment, and Inflation"

Miami Herald No Spend Zone - "False Friends use Facebook"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sold My First Delinquent Lending Club Loan on FolioFn

On Friday, I announced that I was suspending my investments at Lending Club until either a delinquent loan caught up on payment; I accrued enough interest payments to offset my initial $25 investment or I was able to sell my investment at FolioFn.

Well, I was able to sell the $25 loan on Monday for $17. That's a 32% discount from the original loan investment. Initially, I listed the loan for sale at $19.09 and got no response. It didn't help that the FolioFn loan listing search feature wasn't working correctly on the weekend. My shift to a loan sale price of $17 was based on my gut feeling that I never should have made the loan, and FolioFn wasn't working well on the weekend. I initially figured FolioFn was a poor medium for searching for investment options and just wanted to unload my loan.

I initially thought FolioFn was a poor site because the option to sort notes by "yield to maturity" (YTM) was not working. Sorting loans by YTM is the best bottom line method of finding heavily discounted notes. How could people find my loan if this wasn't working well?

I tried the YTM sort feature today and it's working.

Another disturbing item is the fact that the equation used by Lending Club to calculate your Net Annualized Return does not factor in FolioFn fees and losses people may take selling discounted loans at FolioFn. About the only way the advertised "Net Annualized Return" works with any accuracy is if you hold all of your delinquent loans till default.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sold My Bank of America (BAC) Stock

I have had a Bank of America (BAC) dividend reinvestment plan for several years now. I've lost a bit over $2k in it. Today, I sold all but 8 shares of the DRIP. I locked in a price of $13.23 per share.

I decided to sell since:
(1.) Worst case assumptions for bank stress tests have already been exceeded.
(2.) Money supply is fading
(3.) The stock is up 325% after hitting the bottom.

It's time for it give back some of its gains.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Savvy Shopper: Why Not Have That New Car Delivered

You could save some coin and precious time by getting your new car delivered.

Edmunds Daily has an excellent article on the topic. It makes several key points:

* Most dealerships are willing to "deliver" the new car you want to buy.

* It's best to push for the delivery just before you agree to the deal.

* When the car is delivered you completely avoid the finance and insurance office (F&I), which is where many car buying mistakes are made.

* Instead of sitting in a little room and being pressured to buy extended warranties, paint protection packages and other high priced items and services, the contracts arrive with the car. There is no chance to add any extras.

* Contracts are being brought by a porter or other non-salesman type. All they want is your signature, a check and proof of insurance.

* If you pick up the car at the dealership, they won't print the contracts until you get there. The wait just to get into F&I can be an hour and the process can last an hour or longer.

If you like to read about cars, I highly encourage you to check out Edmunds Daily. The full Edmunds "Savvy Shopper" article can be found here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

'Gray Water' Saves Green

Here's a good CNN video about reusing gray water. Reuse of gray water is particularly useful in the west or in counties elsewhere with low water tables or other emergency water conservation regulations.

Consider Reusing
* Washing machine
* Bathtub
* Shower
* Bathroom sink

Don't reuse
* Kitchen sink
* Toilet (toilet water is considered 'black water')
* Dishwasher

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Car Tax Deductions for States Without Sales Tax

The IRS and Treasury Department announced on Wednesday a tax break for vehicles purchased in states without sales tax. US taxpayers are already authorized to deduct new motor vehicle state, local or excise taxes paid. Now, the IRS will allow new car purchases made in states without sales tax to also qualify for a deduction.

Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon do not have a car sales tax. Taxpayers who purchase a new vehicle in these states are entitled to deduct other fees or taxes imposed by the state or local government. The fees or taxes must be assessed on the purchase of the vehicle and must be based on the vehicle’s sales price or as a per unit fee.

Vehicles purchased after 16 Feb 2009 and before 1 Jan 2010 qualify for this deduction. The deduction is limited to the fees or taxes paid on up to $49,500. The deduction is phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income between $125k and $135k for individual filers and between $250k and $260k for joint filers. This deduction is available on 2009 tax returns regardless of whether or not you itemize deductions.

Source (IR-2009-60)

I am Suspending my Lending at Lending Club (Peer-2-Peer Lending)

Investing via peer-2-peer lending is a fun hobby that I have been doing at Lending Club for six months. Previously, I spent over two years investing at Prosper.

Over the last six months, I have made 37 loans at Lending Club. Lending Club states that my net annualized return has been 11.51%.

Two of my 37 loans have been paid off and now one is 16 days late in its FIRST payment. Here's my late loan.

I like how Lending Club provides a "collection history" on late loans. I found this collection history on my late loan:

Collection Log
6/11/09 (Thursday) Collections Agency contacted a borrowers relative
6/9/09 (Tuesday) Payment Failed
6/4/09 (Thursday) Attempted to collect payment
6/2/09 (Tuesday) Contacted a borrowers relative
6/2/09 (Tuesday) Contacted a borrowers relative
6/2/09 (Tuesday) Attempted to contact borrower (left voicemail)
6/2/09 (Tuesday) Contacted a borrowers coworker
6/1/09 (Monday) Attempted to contact borrower (left voicemail)
5/29/09 (Friday) Notified borrower of failed payment (e-mail)
5/29/09 (Friday) Attempted to contact borrower (left voicemail)
5/29/09 (Friday) Payment Failed

Was I just a victim of a Lending Club (Lendingclub) scam? The loan was for the maximum amount of $25k. If I was a Lending Club scammer, I would pursue a $25k loan.

I am now going on hiatus from investing in peer-2-peer loans at Lending Club. I will stay on hiatus until either:

(1.) The loan gets caught up on payments.
(2.) I accrue enough interest on my other loans to completely offset my initial $25 investment on the above delinquent loan.
(3.) I am able to sell the delinquent loan via the FolioFn Note Trading Platform. I have listed this loan for sale with an asking price of $19.09, a 25% discount to its face value of $25.45.

If the loan gets caught up on payments, I'm still going to attempt to sell the loan via the FolioFn Note Trading Platform. Pursuing the eventual sale allows me to clean up my Lending Club balance sheet of suspect loans and gain experience with using the FolioFn Note Trading Platform.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How To Initiate Fraud Alerts With All Three Credit Agencies. It's Free and Only Takes Four Minutes Start to Finish

I was just notified by my mother that her purse was stolen. She advised me that she has always maintained my social security number and full name in her purse. Upon receipt of the news, I initiated a fraud alert with all three credit agencies.

First, I looked at the Lifelock service. The service offers the convenience of never having to renew your fraud alert and provides up to $1 million in identity theft insurance for $10 per month.

Before ordering the service, I figured I'd try the manual route of initiating a fraud alert. A quick google search of "how to initiate a fraud alert" will give you all the info you need. I quickly came across a site that listed the toll free numbers of all consumer credit agency fraud departments. Reluctant to just work from that personal finance site's info alone, I did a google search of the toll free number restricting my search to just Equifax.com.

Here's the Equifax Fraud Dept number: 800-525-6285

You can confirm the number by going to Google and typing the search string:

800-525-6285 site:equifax.com

Reporting the fraud alert w/ Equifax is done via voice prompts. During the process, Equifax states that if your fraud alert filing is successful, then Equifax will automatically file the fraud alert with the other two agencies (TransUnion & Experian). From start to completion, my entire phone call was just four minutes.

The principal issue with manually initiating a fraud alert is that fraud alerts expire after 90 days. Every 90 days you'll have to redo the fraud alert. I figure that four minutes every three months is a great investment compared with $30 for Lifelock's insurance plus automated fraud alert renewal system.

When I go to work tomorrow i'll program my Microsoft Office calender to automatically remind me every 90 days.

How To Save Money Making Your Own Laundry Detergent

Here's an excellent video for those frugal at heart who don't yet know how to make laundry detergent.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

US Houses Passes Cash for Clunkers Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "cash for clunkers" bill Tuesday in a 298-119 vote. The bill has not yet been approved in any format by the Senate yet.

The House bill, would provide cash vouchers of as much as $4,500 to consumers to trade in their older vehicles. Consumers who trade in cars with a fuel economy of 18mpg or less would qualify for a $3,500 voucher toward purchase of a new car with a fuel economy of at least 22 mpg. A $4,500 voucher could be obtained if the new car purchased gets 10 mpg or more than the trade in.

A similar program in Germany is credited with raising sales by more than 10 percent.

Staycation Ideas

Above video has a three second or so dead space. Keep with it.

* Plan ahead
* Go to your local tourism/convention bureau
* Explore your hometown through the eyes of a tourist
* Camping
* Hiking
* Harbor tours
* Sunset / dinner cruise
* Wild life viewing areas
* Visit historic districts in your town
* Art, history museums
* Go to a minor-league game

Monday, June 08, 2009

Why it May be Worth Waiting Until 2011 to Buy a New Vehicle

Besides personal finance and investing, i'm an avid reader on cars. I like to frequent Motortrend and other related sites to keep current on cars and trucks. Previously, I was planning on buying a car three months before we move from Washington State, sometime between June and August of 2010. I wanted to wait since WA state allows non-resident military to purchase vehicles sales-tax free within three months prior to a move. Now, I have even more of a reason to wait.

Waiting till 2011 may be good for you if you hate the current crash rating system for vehicles. All to frequently I find it difficult to exclude cars from my shopping wish list based on safety alone. Take for instance the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS has a "top safety picks list of 2009" which lists a whopping 74 vehicles. What's so top about 74 vehicles? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) isn't that tough on its crash test ratings either.

NHTSA recognizes that nine out of 10 vehicles routinely score either four or five stars out of five. NHTSA now vows to increase the standards for front- and side-impacts, along with more stringent rollover testing starting with 2011 models. Reference:

The Energy Independence and Security Act amends the 1975 law by requiring fuel economy standards for 2011-20 models to be set to ensure an industry-wide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for all new passenger vehicles combined (that is, different standards no longer will apply to cars and light trucks). This law authorizes NHTSA to use a size-based system for both cars and light trucks, and the agency’s new (March 2009) standard for 2011 models uses such a system. The result will be to promote fuel economy without compromising safety (source).

Knowing this, I'll either wait and buy a 2011 model or buy a heavily discounted 2010 if the model didn't change significantly between 2010 and 2011 and the 2011 crash test results are top of its class. If you want to view current NHTSA crash results go to safercar.gov. If my research is correct, the cheapest new vehicle with 5 star crash ratings (front, side, rollover) is the 2010 Mazda 6.

How to Replace Mutilated Currency

The Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, provides a free public service for the redemption of partially destroyed or badly damaged currency. Each year the U.S. Treasury redeems damaged currency claims totaling over $30 million.

Currency can become mutilated via many ways which include: fire, water, chemicals, explosives; animal, insect or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by burying. Under Dept of Treasury regulations, mutilated US currency may be exchanged at face value if:

more than 50% of a note identifiable as United States currency is present; or, 50% or less of a note identifiable as United States currency is present, and the method of mutilation and supporting evidence demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.

Examples of mutilated currency (source: Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

What is not mutilated currency?

Any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, worn, out currency note that is CLEARLY MORE than one-half of the original note, and does not require special examination to determine its value. These notes should be exchanged through your local bank...
Mutilated currency can be mailed in to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for exchange. Ensure currency is submitted via registered mail, return receipt requested. Include a letter stating the estimated value of the currency and how the currency became mutilated. Mutilated currency should be shipped to:

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
MCD/OFM, BEPA Room 344
AP.O. Box 37048
Washington, D. C. 20013

Additional details can be found here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Network and Have Fun With Other Personal Finance Bloggers: Join My Fantasy Football "Money Referee" League at Yahoo

Fantasy Sports is a fun and cheap way to kill time. If you're into sports like me you might be interested in joining my Yahoo Fantasy Football League. It's a head-to-head weekly competition league. It's different from other Fantasy Football leagues. Besides getting credit for the normal stats this league has:

* Individual defensive players
* Includes points per reception
* Includes negative points
* No DL bench spot
* No can't cut list

Last, but most importantly, it has a live draft on Saturday morning, 22 August. August 22nd is in the middle of the preseason. So, if you actively manage a personal finance website and want to network with others with similar interests consider joining my league. I've got nine roster spots available. Just email me at admin@pluggedinfinance.com or post a comment for one of the nine roster spots. Please be sure to provide the URL of your site so that I may share it with everybody else once we have a full league.

Complete League Settings:

Scoring Type Head-to-Head
Divisions No
Playoffs Week 15 and 16 (4 teams)
Playoff Seeding Type
Max Teams 10
League Start Week 1
Can't Cut List None
Max Acquisitions per Season No maximum
Max Acquisitions per Week No maximum
Max Trades per Season No maximum
Trade Reject Time 2 days
Trade End Date November 20, 2009
Trade Review League Votes
Waiver Time 2 days
Waiver Type Continual rolling list
Weekly Waivers None
Post Draft Players Follow Waiver Rules
Quarterback (QB) 1
Wide Receiver (WR) 2
Running Back (RB) 2
Tight End (TE) 1
Wide Receiver/Tight End (W/T) 0
Wide Receiver/Running Back (W/R) 1
Wide Receiver/Running Back/Tight End (W/R/T) 0
Quarterback/Wide Receiver/Running Back/Tight End (Q/W/R/T) 0
Kickers (K) 1
Defense/Special Teams (DEF) 0
Defensive Player (D) 1
Defensive Lineman (DL) 1
Defensive Back (DB) 1
Linebacker (LB) 0
Defensive End (DE) 0
Defensive Tackle (DT) 0
Cornerback (CB) 0
Safety (S) 0
Injured Reserve (IR)
Bench (BN) 6
Scoring SettingsEdit Settings Passing Touchdowns 6 Points
Interceptions -2 Points
Completions 0.5 Points
Incomplete Passes -0.5 Points
Passing Yards 50 Yards = 1 Point
Rushing Touchdowns 6 Points
Rushing Yards 20 Yards = 1 Point
Reception Touchdowns 6 Points
Receptions .5 Points
Reception Yards 20 Yards = 1 Point
Return Touchdowns 6 Points
Return Yards 20 Yards = 1 Point
Offensive Fumble Return TD 6 Points
2-Point Conversions 2 Points
Fumbles Lost -2 Points
Field Goals 0-19 Yards 3 Points
Field Goals 20-29 Yards 3 Points
Field Goals 30-39 Yards 3 Points
Field Goals 40-49 Yards 4 Points
Field Goals 50+ Yards 5 Points
Point After Attempt Made 1 Points
Tackle Solo 1 Points
Tackle Assist .5 Points
Sack 3 Points
Interception 2 Points
Fumble Force 2 Points
Fumble Recovery 2 Points
Defensive Touchdown 6 Points
Safety 2 Points
Pass Defended 1 Points
Block Kick 2 Points
Rushing Yards (Bonus 1) 150 Yards = 3 Points
Reception Yards (Bonus 1) 150 Yards = 3 Points
Return Yards (Bonus 1) 100 Yards = 3 Points
Fractional Points Yes
Negative Points Yes

FDIC Deposit Insurance Limit ($250k) Extended, Some Indefinately. PLUS Additional Way to Get Up to $50 Million in FDIC Coverage

Congress temporarily increased FDIC deposit insurance to $250k in October 2008. This increase from $100k was set to expire at the end of 2009. On May 19th, Congress voted to extend this coverage another four years to 31 Dec 2013. On 1 Jan 2014, the standard insurance amount will return to $100k per depositer for all accounts expect IRAs and other particular retirement accounts. These retirement accounts will remain at $250k per depositer.

FDIC fact sheet.

Investors can also get FDIC coverage up to $50 million by using the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS). A general video on CDARS is below.

If you wish to find a bank with that offers the CDARS service click here.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bank of America Wins Right To Seize Social Security Benefits To Pay Overdraft Fees

This is a Meg Marco article from the Consumerist.

The California Supreme Court has effectively reversed a 2004 San Francisco trial court decision that ordered BofA to pay $284.4 million in damages to more than 1.1 million customers. The California Supreme Court ruled that banks can tap Social Security benefits in bank accounts to cover bounced-check fees, a practice consumer advocates say is abusive because Federal law prohibits Social Security benefits from being seized to pay a debt. California law apparently doesn't consider overdraft fees to be debt, so the fee party will be allowed to rock on indefinitely.

Read This if You Take Home The Excess Toiletries From Hotels

Every time we stay in a hotel, I make sure I take any excess toiletries home. The only problem is that they've been piling up in a bathroom junk drawer. Well, I came up with the following idea for our guest bathroom. I took a small basket, rolled up some of our towels and placed some of our hotel toiletry stash in the basket.

This should work well for most households. I put the best ones (lux and casino hotel toiletries) in the basket while keeping the cheaper ones for our master bath.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Interesting Articles From: Bullish Bankers, Darwin's Finance, Financial Armageddon, Fund My Mutual Fund, My Two Dollars

It's always a pleasure when I find great articles from sites on my blogroll. Here's my most recent finds.

Bullish Bankers. "Will Ownership of Gold & Silver Wheaton Be Outlawed?"

Darwin's Finance. "Going out of Business Sales a Scam or Worthwhile?"

Financial Armageddon. "What a House of Cards Really Looks Like."

Fund My Mutual Fund. "60% of US Bankruptcies Due To Medical Bills."

My Two Dollars. "AIG Wants To Use A Charity Endowment to Pay Bonuses."

Is an Education Worth the Expense?

Outside the improvements in self esteem, communication and analytical skills, an education boils down to return on investment. I risk making this post as exciting as a "Wonder Years Ben Stein Lecture," but here goes...

Do you think it will make you more competitive for promotions? Do you think that a new career field or higher education would give you enough of a marginal increase in salary to merit the time spent?

I'm a proponent of education. However, you must understand that it's important to monetize the worth of an education. Here's some things to consider:

1. How much of a pay cut will you sustain over the period of pursuing an education? If you don't experience a salary decrease, do you think that your focus on an after hours education will impede your focus at work, thereby limiting promotion opportunities?

2. Once you graduate from a program, do you think you'll take a pay cut until you establish some form of seniority?

3. How long will you work in the new career field and benefit from the improved education? The best thing to do, strictly from a monetary sense, is to:

a) Monetize the net increase in salary that you expect over the remainder of your career: Present Value[ (new salary - prior salary)*(Number years remaining in work force)].

b) Monetize any impacts (decreases) to your annual salary while going to school

c) Monetize the cost of your psychic energy expended on school work. Could you have otherwise spent your psychic energy (brain power) teaching your children something useful or otherwise contribute to the household? This cost may be ignored, but you should be aware of it.

Now determine the net present value of a, b and c.

Example... If you make $90k/yr now and you pay $125k to go to med school and increase your salary to $200k/yr for a 15yr career as an M.D.

Benefit "A": ($200k - $90k) for 15 years @ 5% discount rate, Pay Raise Deferred Six Years From Now = $852,000.67

Cost "B": Lose $90k/yr salary for six years @ 5% discount rate = -$456,812.29 (present value of unearned income b/c in Med School/Residency)

Cost "C": Ignored, but could be considered

Net Present Value of "A, B, C" = $852,000.67 - $456,812.29 = $395,188.38

Now determine your return on education: Return on education: [(Net Present Value A,B,C) – Education Cost]/Education Cost * 100 = ($395,188.38 - $125,000)/($125,000) * 100 = 216% return.

In this case, furthering your education makes sense.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

My Lending Club Portfolio Snap Shot

I've been lending at Lending Club since Nov. 4, 2008. Since then, I have been investing my website earnings and building a portfolio of 32 active loans, 1 paid off loan and 2 loans in funding.

My portfolio's Net Annualized Return on Investment has been 10.85%. After gaining two years lending experience at Prosper, I have learned to curtail my risk taking. At Prosper, I had an average loan rate between 21 and 22%. Needless to say, my high risk was rewarded with a high number of defaults. I'm still getting a small positive return at Prosper, but principally view it as a learning experience.

I'm taking a slow and steady approach at Lending Club. My average loan credit rating distribution is:

A: 27%
B: 26%
C: 32%
D: 15%

For the most part, I've been lending exclusively to those that work for the military, federal civil service, state civil service and health care. I have been bidding on loans that have debt to income ratios less than 20% and zero delinquencies in the last two years.

Email me if you're interested in becoming a lender. People I refer get a $25 bonus from Lending
Club and also gain access to me via email in the event you desire me to mentor you in learning to use Lending Club.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

May Car Sales: Volkswagon Jetta and Ford Fusion Experience May Sales Growth

According to WSJ, two cars experienced sales growth during last month as compared with May 2008. Volkswagon Jetta sales grew by 27.6% while Ford Fusion sales grew by 9.4%.

Across all manufacturers, Subaru fared the best. Sales data:

May '08-'09 Manufacturer

(05.0%) Subaru
(12.1%) Audi
(16.1%) Kia
(16.5%) Volkswagon
(20.4%) Hyundai
(22.9%) Volvo
(24.2%) Ford
(27.8%) BMW
(28.7%) GM
(30.6%) Mercedes
(33.1%) Nissan
(40.1%) Mazda
(40.7%) Toyota
(41.5%) Honda
(46.9%) Chrysler
(58.3%) Mitsubishi
(63.5%) Saab
(75.1%) Suzuki

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Should You Buy a Car From GM (A Consumer Reports Review) Plus List / Map of GM Dealerships That Have Been Ordered to Close

A special thanks to Marc Perton from "The Consumerist" for finding this Consumer Reports clip which highlights Consumer Report's take on whether or not consumers should consider buying a car from GM during this tumultuous period where the company is going through a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Consumer Reports likes two particular vehicles:
*GM Truck

It is also important to consider whether or not you will keep the car greater than five years in order for depreciation costs to start to level out. Also, consider whether or not a local GM dealership will remain in the area to service your vehicle.

Here's a list / map of the GM dealerships that have been ordered to close. Please give it about 10 seconds to load.

Don't Be Deceived: The Real Site You Should Use to Obtain Your Free Credit Report

We all have seen the FreeCreditReport.com videos. What you may not realize is that credit reports from this site aren't free. What you get from this site is a "free" seven day trial that automatically rolls over to a $14.95/month credit monitoring service.

If you are truly interested in obtaining your free annual credit report go to AnnualCreditReport.com. This site is not really advertised. I came across it via the Federal Trade Commission's website. The FTC site states:

What is AnnualCreditReport.com?
AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source to get your free annual credit report under federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every twelve months. The Federal Trade Commission has received complaints from consumers who thought they were ordering their free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads, email offers, or online search results. Go to the authorized source when you request your free report.

How do I request my free credit report?
You can request your free report online, by phone or by mail. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or fill out the Annual Credit Report Request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. No matter how you request your report, you have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time. By requesting the reports separately, you can monitor your credit more frequently throughout the year.

Why should I request my credit report?
Because the information in your credit report is used to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and renting a home, you should be sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. In addition, monitoring your credit is one of the best ways to spot identity theft. Check your credit report at least once a year to correct errors and detect unauthorized activity.

What should I look for when I review my credit report?
If you see accounts you don’t recognize or information that is inaccurate, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider. For more information, read the FTC’s tips on how to dispute credit errors.

If you suspect identity theft, you may need to place a fraud alert on your credit report, close compromised accounts, file a complaint with the FTC, or file a police report. Start by visiting the FTC’s identity theft website.

Here's the corny video for AnnualCreditReport.com

Monday, June 01, 2009

Net Worth Up $16,200 in Last 30 Days

This was my household's best month I can remember for growing our net worth. Since May 1st, we have increased our net worth by $16,200.

Our net take home pay is $8264 per month. How did our net worth go up so much? Well, it went up principally because:

* Property values for our three investment properties in lower Tennessee and Alabama have gone up. This is to be expected since mortgage rates bottomed out this past month, and I have noticed property values tend to be strong in and around summer months.

* A majority of our investments across our ROTH IRAs are in Gold, Silver and Soft Commodities. These sectors have been performing well.

* Over the past 17 months we have completed about $37k in repairs and upgrades to two of our three investment properties. We shouldn't have any other related expenditures for considerable time on our properties (fingers crossed). During May, no property repairs, only rent collected.

So, why do I say our net worth increased $16.2k but list only $4.2k on my site's header? Well, I changed the way I calculate our net worth. In the past, I would take credit for the full account balance of each of our regular 401Ks. Now, I'm discounting the face value of these by 18% to account for Federal taxes we would pay if we were of retirement age. Doing this now will prevent tax bill shock in retirement... Over the last three months we also modified our net worth calculations to discount our investment property values by full real estate broker fees. We shouldn't have any other changes to our net worth calculations going forward.

IRS Annouces Tax Credits For Plug In Hybrids Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and PHEV Coversions

I knew that the IRS was going to authorize tax credits for PHEVs but I had no idea that they were going to authorize tax credits for PHEV conversions. Here's the IRS guidelines:

Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicle Credit (Section 1141): The new law modifies the credit for qualified plug-in electric drive vehicles purchased after Dec. 31, 2009. To qualify, vehicles must be newly purchased, have four or more wheels, have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds, and draw propulsion using a battery with at least four kilowatt hours that can be recharged from an external source of electricity. The minimum amount of the credit for qualified plug-in electric drive vehicles is $2,500 and the credit tops out at $7,500, depending on the battery capacity. The full amount of the credit will be reduced with respect to a manufacturer's vehicles after the manufacturer has sold at least 200,000 vehicles.

Plug-In Electric Vehicle Credit (Section 1142): The new law also creates a special tax credit for two types of plug-in vehicles — certain low-speed electric vehicles and two- or three-wheeled vehicles. The amount of the credit is 10 percent of the cost of the vehicle, up to a maximum credit of $2,500 for purchases made after Feb. 17, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2012. To qualify, a vehicle must be either a low speed vehicle propelled by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery with a capacity of 4 kilowatt hours or more or be a two- or three-wheeled vehicle propelled by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery with the capacity of 2.5 kilowatt hours. A taxpayer may not claim this credit if the plug-in electric drive vehicle credit is allowable.

Conversion Kits (Section 1143): The new law also provided a tax credit for plug-in electric drive conversion kits. The credit is equal to 10 percent of the cost of converting a vehicle to a qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle and placed in service after Feb. 17, 2009. The maximum amount of the credit is $4,000. The credit does not apply to conversions made after Dec. 31, 2011. A taxpayer may claim this credit even if the taxpayer claimed a hybrid vehicle credit for the same vehicle in an earlier year (IRS source).

To learn more about the first PHEV direct from Detroit (Chevy Volt) click here. According to the WSJ, the Volt will be priced at about $40k before any incentives (WSJ article). As for me, I wouldn't be interested in a Volt unless it had excellent crash ratings, qualified for the full $7500 tax credit and about $3k in additional GM incentives. Instead, give me a large vehicle hybrid (Toyota Highlander or Camry, both with excellent crash ratings) with a PHEV conversion cost below $7500 and I might be sold on the idea.

Go to California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org) if you want to learn more about PHEV conversions. The site also provides a map of North America marked by YouTube videos associated with PHEV conversion businesses.